He was called “The Walking Riot.”
With a literal no-holds-barred attitude and outrageous eyebrows that looked theatrical – but weren’t – the late Wild Bull Curry made himself a legend in the world of professional wrestling that older fans still remember today, decades after Curry passed in 1985.
He is now the subject of a new book, written and self-published by his son “Flying Fred” Curry. Fred is now training his son Nick, who attends Springfield’s Central High School, to be the third generation professional wrestler in the family.
At a breakfast interview accompanied by nationally known wrestling historian Tom Burke of Springfield, Fred recalled his father’s life and times.
Fred described his father as “an action guy – he didn’t wait for things to happen. He made them happen.”
He added, “Wherever you walked with him, he attracted a big crowd. People thought he was a werewolf.”
Burke said Bull worked in wrestling until his death. When he stopped wrestling, he became a manager and one of his last local appearances was at Holyoke’s Mountain Park in 1984.
Burke saw Bull at the very first live wrestling show he attended in 1959 and hated him, as Bull was a “heel.”
Burke and Bull, though, became friends, and Burke recalled how he had driven Bull to that Mountain Park appearance.
Fred said his father’s career in the ring started at age 16. Bull, a resident of Hartford, CT, joined a carnival in a boxing act in which he would take on all comers. While in Detroit, MI, Adam Weissmuller, a local promoter, needed a boxer to fill out a card and Bull had his chance. He knocked out his opponent and began a career as a light heavyweight.
Eventually he would fight Jack Dempsey, the legendary heavyweight champion of the world.
“Dempsey had a lot of respect for this guy,” Fred said. Dempsey had a photo of Bull displayed in his celebrated New York City restaurant and bar, Fred added.
When Bull became a wrestler, he brought a boxer’s intensity to the sport, Fred said. He started wrestling in the 1930s.
“He was hardcore. Everything goes. Last man standing,” Fred said of Bull’s style. Photos in “The Walking Riot” attest to Bull’s style. Even if a member of the audience bothered him, watch out.
When Bull began wrestling he was a “heel” or bad guy. Later he became more of a good guy, although Burke noted Bull’s role changed often according to where in the country he was wrestling.
Fred said that while working in Texas, one woman kicked Bull in his shins on the street and said she did that to see just how tough he was.
“There was always that type of thing,” he said.
Bull wrestled before the advent of television and before television exposure could make or break a wrestler as it does today. Fred and Burke explained that Bull toured the country, much of it in the South and Texas for years of his career.
“He was on the road constantly,“ Fred recalled. “I spent summers with him. It was a great experience.”
Later in his career, Bull teamed up with Fred in a tag team. Fred was known as a “flyer,” a wrestler who was more acrobatic and used the top rope from which to jump onto his opponent.
Fred described his style as “energetic, fast, moving and fast paced” – different than his father’s.
“It was tough,” he recalled. “I could do nothing right. He was never satisfied.”
Fred added, “I said, ‘I can’t work with this guy.’ He was driving me crazy.”
Back home in Hartford, CT, Bull worked as an auxiliary police officer from 1939 to 1945, patrolling the streets with his fellow officers, a role his father greatly enjoyed and respected, Fred detailed in his book. He later worked, after he retired from the ring, in the Hartford County Sheriff’s Department.
Fred wrote that away from wrestling his father was a family man who loved carpentry and deep-sea fishing. He was a devoted husband and family man.
“The Walking Riot” is available through Fred’s website, www.wildbullcurry.com.